Scripture: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance--unnecessary weight--and that sin that so readily and cleverly clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence, the appointed course--the race that is set before us." (Hebrews 12:1)
May the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit be with you always. Let's invite the Holy Spirit into this moment. Come Holy Spirit and break open the Word of God for us that we may be changed, encouraged, inspired and transformed into living words of Jesus, our Lord.
Happy Holy Saturday! The Lord is with us...but I want you to go back with me to that first "day after." I began to re-watch "A.D." last night. It was a series made for tv that begins with the Crucifixion but mainly is focused on the birth of the Church, Acts of the Apostles. It is so easy for us, thousands of years later, to think of these people as having received constant, automatic downloads from Jesus every step of the way. This mini-series shows, in a powerful way, the angst and the struggle the apostles went through in trying to figure out what to do with what Jesus left them! And it wasn't a one and done...it was a constant challenge.
Imagine that Saturday for them. What desolation and devastation must have been going through their minds? What uncertainty! He'd talked about rising in 3 days but REALLY? How was that possible? And I imagine Jesus' Mother holding her ground on what He had said, but I can just imagine the apostles reeling and battling every kind of doubt and fear. Maybe: " Here we are locked in this house. It's dangerous to go out. How could we be so deceived? What kind of idiots are we? We have NO discernment...OR common sense. And now we're supposed to believe some crazy thing about coming alive again? We can't even go out of this place. They'll kill us. The people who killed Him are still out there and still seething. And they know we were with Him. It's hard to even conceive of Him coming alive again. That would be THE ultimate miracle. But really, this thing is just over. He's dead. We need to just go back home and get out of this hotbed. But...we saw SO many miracles. So much of what He said came true...could this happen? Is it remotely possible? They SO wanted to believe. Please God, let it be." And so, they waited. Probably partly out of fear and partly out of desperate hope.
Perhaps we are at a similar place. There's something out there that could kill us if we leave our homes. We've read about and maybe seen miracles. But this (Coronavirus) seems like the ultimate impossible. (And, of course, the news isn't talking about the number who have been healed). We have our own struggles to believe. We live in the" now and the not yet" of God. What we see in the natural is bleak. Who would've believed that something like a little virus could bring the world totally to its knees in just a few weeks. We WANT to believe ALL of the Easter message. We want to believe that healings and miracles happen, but we get easily and quickly discouraged when we get blasted with a big scare or devastation. So, we are not so dissimilar to the first followers of Jesus, and they were eyewitnesses to Him miracles and their own. If they struggled to believe and stay the course, we can expect to as well. BUT they DID stay the course. Somehow, they struggled through and dared to believe that death would not have the last word. They dared to believe that God's love was more powerful than all the evil and disease and darkness, even if it didn't seem quite real yet. But then it happened, just as Jesus foretold. Mind-blowing, outrageous, unfathomable! Jesus was alive. And He blasted through all of their preconceived notions, all of their human understanding, all of their dashed hopes, fears, broken dreams, even their wildest expectations...and He still does.
This time we are in can capture us in a microcosm of human thinking. Turn off the news. Or at least commit to spending as much time in the Word as you do watching the news. The same Jesus who blew open every impossible on that first Easter is STILL the same Jesus of THIS moment. Do your work to "take every thought captive in obedience to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:54) Ask Him to give you His eyes to see all of this. What an opportunity we miss if we only see through human eyes and expectations. Ephesians 1:19-20 says, "And so that you can know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places..." This means that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is "in us and for us."
Somewhere, a while ago, I read that if there is any area of doubt or unbelief in God's power or love for us, the enemy would use it to torment us. Here's our challenge today. Today we join the first apostles in waiting. We have the immeasurable gift of His Word and their testimony to know what happened on that first Easter Sunday. But every person has their moment, (and many of them) when the enemy draws a line in the sand and dares you to believe what seems absolutely ridiculous in the natural. What will we do with that moment? Many of us are in that moment right now. The apostles were not chastised for their struggle to believe in Jesus' ultimate miracle. Jesus came to them over and over after His resurrection. He continued to teach them, to explain things, to connect the dots for them. And He will do the same for us. But wrestle any area that needs His touch. Bring it to Him in prayer. Do not give the enemy a foothold to pummel you. This is our time, as this generation's apostles, to lock our gaze on His and not let go. We owe the world an encounter with Jesus. And we can't afford to let anything get in the way. Don't berate yourself for any of your particular triggers, just bring them to the Lord to be immersed in His Sacred Heart and let's get on with it! His favorite job is being our Savior. Let Him.
One of the greatest blessings for the apostles AND for us is Mark 16: 20; "And they went out and preached everywhere while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied it." YES, JESUS! Turn your "expect switch" on, people of God! Satan thought he was doing something amazing to shut down St Paul when he had him imprisoned. Paul wrote about 60% of the New Testament, and much of it in captivity. Perhaps he would've been too busy to write if he hadn't been imprisoned. ALWAYS, our God reigns. NOTHING can thwart His plans. He promises to work ALL things (the good and the bad) for our good. (Romans 8:28) And looking back on some of our past antics, THAT in and of itself is a miracle! As I said the other day, His work was completed on the Cross. What's unfinished is our part. Here we are in the "now and the not yet" of our Resurrection promise. Let's renew our commitment today to be present, to be available and to be "waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior," into every moment of our lives. Eyes open. It's about to get really bright at that tomb. And He’s ready for us to know and understand the "immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe." (Ephesians 1:19) Let's spend time today wrapping our heads around this. We have work to do for Ballistic Breakthrough!
Declaration: Thank you, Lord, that we are Yours! Thank You that You promise to continue to work with us not just so we can understand, but so that we too will walk in healings and signs and wonders. We expect to see You move, because the supernatural realm is becoming more and more our natural realm every day. We thank You that no weapon formed against us will prosper because You work even bad things out for our good. We declare that we are carriers of the One who burst forth out of a grave; not even death can stop You. We thank You that not even death can stop us. Whether in life or in death we belong to YOU. We consecrate ourselves to you and declare that every day of our lives, our every move and every breath will be for the glory of God. Praise You, Jesus!
Much love to all. Let's keep each other in prayer, and may every grace and blessing be multiplied to you and your families this Easter.